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Vital Weekly 750

img  Tobias Fischer

INCH-TIME - THE FLOATING WORLD (CD by Mystery Plays Records)
Stefan Panczak is Inch-time and since 2003 he has been producing music for a variety of labels, mainly Static Caravan and the earliest one where on Lab Recordings. For whatever he started his own label now, Mystery Plays Records, and 'The Floating World' is his first release there, and his third full length album. Panczak, originally from Australia, but residing in London, is a man of electronics, keyboards as well as rhythm machines. 'It was constructed in my laptop with the addition of some acoustic guitar, recorded through a microphone' and the music is inspired by the Japanese art movement Ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world). The music, ten tracks spanning some forty-four minutes, is that of mellow ambient dance music. Some lush keyboard sounds, electric piano, spoken word samples, folk like at times, but always with that steady rhythm underneath. Not really a new thing of course, as this fits the Static Caravan catalogue quite nicely, or, say Expanding Records (the beat parts where sampled from vintage drum machines of Benge), but Inch-time executes ten great entertaining songs. Rainy day feel good music, with the right amount of experimental textures in combination with some great melodies. (FdW) Address:

On January, 27th 2009, Klaus Wiese left his human incarnation and passed away. He was a former member of Popol Vuh and produced many albums of deep ambient music using Tibetan instruments. His close friends Mathias Grassow and Tomas Weiss pay homage to him on the album 'Farewell'. Five lengthy pieces and a shorter closing track. Grassow too has vast output which brought him some fame in the world of German cosmic music. This work probably doesn't add a new insight to the man's work, or that of Weiss, but I'm sure all fans will line up to get a copy. This is some excellent spacious music. Popol Vuh like chantings on 'The Orbit' along a deep wash of analogue synthesizers. This is cosmic music, or heavenly: whatever you prefer. Very atmospheric, very deep and highly emotional. Light a candle, a 'cigarette', darken your room, lie back and float away. This is not music that wants to be original, new or any such thing, but simply wants to be 'beautiful', and as such it succeeds very well. A great homage to a player of similar beautiful music. The occasion might sad, but the music is mighty fine indeed. (FdW) Address:


These three releases come in nice digipacks, but the strange thing about the release by cellist Tanja Orning is that it only lasts seven minutes and fifty seconds. She composed this piece in 2002, for the opening of an exhibition of Anna-Eva Bergman and this was repeated in 2009 when she performed the piece at another exhibition of Bergman's formative years, 1949-1952. Both of them was at the Henie Onstad Art Centre in Hovikodden, Norway and they have a record label too, so now its released. A great piece of solo cello music, partly sounding like a modern classical composition and partly sounding like a piece of improvised music. The cello sounds like a cello.  Very nice, but way too short.
Prisma Records recently released a 3CD/1DVD set by Bjorn Fongaard with historical electronic recordings, here they have another new name for me with historical recordings. Sigurd Berge (1929-2002) was a Norwegian composer of electronic music and in 2009 a couple of old reels from the sixties or seventies were found and are now released, along with some previously released pieces and the lengthy piece 'Blikk', which was one of the first multimedia installations in Norway in the early seventies. That piece, spanning over thirty-one minutes, is a different than the six pieces before that. Those six are quite crude pieces for oscillations and sine wave and such  like, not recorded in a very high fidelity version, but perhaps because of that, the lack of refinement (both in recording and composition), the noise of 'Erupsjon', makes these pieces very nice. The sixth piece, 'Delta' is a musique concrete piece, but largely based on the recording of a heavy rainfall and sounds that imitate that. The 'Blikk' piece also consists of field recordings, but its much more spread out, with silent gaps, bits of electronic processing. Here the sound quality is much better, but the music largely unorganized. More like a bunch of sounds used in a bigger event, but without being able to see such events. Its altogether a nice piece and an excellent CD.
Some years ago I decided to give up on collecting everything by Merzbow and only to listen to the 100+ CDs I already have, plus hearing whatever comes my way. Like this forty-one minute live recording from the Henie Onstad Art Centre of exactly a year ago. It was part of an exhibition called 'Kurt Schwitters In Norway' (when leaving Germany for the Nazis). There Schwitters built another version of his Merzbau, and that's where Masami Akita got his band name from (and the cover shows a picture of Merzbow in Merzbau). In his current set-up, Merzbow uses two laptops, synthesizer, custom made metal objects and effect pedals - the whole rainbow of them. This is exactly the kind of Merzbow I like and love: loud, vicious noise music. I don't believe I would expected him to something else than this. Great stuff, but perhaps also a bit similar to the 100+ I already have and the 100+ I probably missed over the few years. I don't think that the real fans would really care that much, and I am more than satisfied with the occasional Merzbow. This particular live recording is excellent. (FdW) Address:


A strict separation between ambient and noise here, but the division is not quite on equal terms. In the left corner we find ambient music, spread out over three CDs and one DVD, while old-timers Mauthausen Orchestra are in the right corner with noise. Enrico Congilio already worked with Oophoi on a CD for Glacial Movements (see Vital Weekly 683) and here works with his drones, field recordings, bells, programming with two musicians (not on every track together) Manuel P. Cecchinato (arc-angel synthesizer, treatments, crystals) and Massimo Liverani (guitars, loops, treatments). The five pieces, ranging from six to twenty minutes, are excellent examples of ambient drone music. Dark, atmospheric, spacious, all those keywords of what ambient and drone music is, apply to this music. Much of this kind of music has been said and done before, but Coniglio does a mighty fine job here. Excellent wonderful production.
More ambient is to be found on the new Michael Mantra release. The last time I reviewed something from was his work with Rod Modell in Vital Weekly 163 - that's back in 1999! Before that he had a great CD on Silent Records. He writes on the cover that both CDs are companion albums, both spanning almost 75 minutes of strictly non-linear music. Repeating irregularities of simple keyboard patterns with hardly any change in that. This is not music that one should put on and listen to very carefully. Its ambient music in the way Brian Eno intended. Present music without making demands. The DVD is a version of the 'Amanita' piece with as visual bonus the sight of trees waving in the wind - also running for seventy-five minutes. The big 'trouble' here is of course changing the discs every seventy-five minutes. Perhaps this is the kind of music that should be on a DVD, in 24-bit and then lasting for three or more hours, as to extent the experience.
Mauthausen Orchestra, being Pierpaolo Zoppo, is quite a legendary household name from the world of (Italian) noise since the early 80s. Over those three decades I didn't keep up with his output, so its not easy to comment on 'Digression' in a historical context of his work - although I am told its a kind of come back album. I must say I am quite surprised by this work actually! I expected an album of harsh noise, feedback, distortion et al, but such is not really the case here. These thirty-eigth minutes are filled with lots of analogue synthesizer sounds, although not all at the same time. Separated into distinct blocks of sounds, cobbled together into one piece of heavy duty ambient-meets-noise. The noise here probably lies more in the approach of composition than in the actual musical content: its all pretty basic and crude. That is the surprise of the release I guess. Its nice enough but not great in terms of composition. But always nice to welcome back an older artist, restarting his musical career. (FdW) Address:

STORMHAT - KABINE (CDR by Appololaan Recordings)
Stormhat is the Danish word for one of the European continent's most poisonous plants; a few grams consumption of the Stormhat-plant marks the end of a human life. Behind this threatening name, you find Danish sound artist Peter Bach Nicolaisen who apart from lecturing at Krabbesholm College for Art, Architecture and Design and part time at the electronic department of the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, also creates strange sound spheres as Stormhat. Since 2004, Stormhat has launched a number of albums on labels such as Diophantine Discs, EE Tapes and the two latest on well acclaimed British label Apollolaan Recordings. Stormhat¥s latest release titled "Kabine" opens with clanging bells manipulated in a way that reminds a bit of early Zoviet France but soon after we slowly move into ambient textures. The force of Stormhat is the re-processession and manipulation of concrete sources into alienated sound sculptures. The ambient textures floats in-between moments of tranquility and harsher moments. Another remarkable part of the overall expression is the use of subtle noise drones reminiscent of U.S. noise artist Bastard Noise. As is the case with all albums from Apollolaan Recordings, "Kabine" is launched in a limited edition of 50 copies with nicely handmade cover artwork: A hand-painted sleeve wrapped in a color sheet. (Niels Mark) Address:


And what about Daniel Menche? He continues as ever. In 'Blood Of The Land' he doesn't use any soil recordings, which you may expect with such a title, but 'storm recordings recorded throughout 2009-2010 all around Oregon, USA', which mixed together into a twenty minute piece of heavily processed field recordings. I might be mistaken, but when I played this earlier today, in the morning, I thought I could feel a cold breeze in my house. I must have been imagining this, but for a short moment (well, actually a bit longer) I thought I could actually feel the music breezing through my house. Which I guess is the best when it comes to having an audio illusion. This piece could have been a bit longer for my taste - although I never like biking through a heavy storm, the sound is always nice to hear.


Colorful and with a lot of fun, that are the first things that triggers me. The artwork of the CD-cover is self-made compiled with photography, drawings and collage technics. A pleasure for the eyes. The CD 'Boogers' is a compilation of music of the last five years. Doggy P. Lips started to record sounds on an old tabletop cassette recorder and exchanged the recordings with D. Petri. The sounds are mostly created by voice, guitar, a lot of effect pedals and field-recordings. The result is a noisy experimental album. No noise as a wall of sound, but abstract electronic sounds with a lot of diversity.  The album ends with two composition which are more musical. Firstly it starts with a harsh loop created by a voice and more elements like bells and long-lasting soundwaves with a drony mood calm down these harsh sounds. The CD ends with a long drony track with edited water-alike looped sounds. Will this long drony music be the next step of Dog Hallucination? I hope so, because they create it in a good way.
Gushing Cloud is a project of Gus Kumo, who is working close with the musicians of Dog Hallucination. Also Gus Kumo takes a long period to compile this album and that is what you can hear. He takes six years to recompose, rework, re-edit and re?. to make a well-balanced album of seven tracks. The base of the music is a nice beat and the music palette goes from minimal ambient to heavy guitar and from weird funky stuff to jazzy dub. The music is creative, freaky, funny and well composed. This album gives me a good mood and is highly recommended. (Jan-Kees Helms)


Crazy stuff here. One Christoph Wiman (who he?) recorded 'The Raven', a ten minute piece of acoustic guitar, singing, flutes and percussion. Quite melodic, almost pop music like, but the odd, and perhaps that's the most unsettling thing about this, length makes this a really a haunting piece. I thought it was absolutely nothing for Vital Weekly, but at the same time I thought this was a great song. Odd.
Feedback through mp3 player, contact microphone and distortion pedals: now that's more common ground for Vital Weekly, and they are operated by Choi Joonyong from Korea. He has eight short pieces of noise based music on his 3"CDR. Loud, vicious stuff, all improvised no doubt (as that's his background). A pretty loud beast this one, but altogether also good and at twenty-one minutes also very much to the point. This shouldn't have been much longer I thought. Raw, powerful and short: excellent noise. (FdW) Address:

(cassette by Friends & Relatives)
SKYTHING - HOWDY CLOUD (cassette by Friends & Relatives)
More madness then from the house of Friends & Relatives. First on CDR is one Colleen Donaldson, who has some thirteen short tracks of unrelentness chaotic tunes. Lots of distorted sounds from sources unknown. Maybe some form of tape manipulation, vinyl manipulation and the addition of voice. Think singer songwriting, but then coming from mars. Hardly sung and even harder songs. Total weirdness, total outsider stuff. Its as chaotic as loveable. Am I to believe that the girl pictured on the back did this music? She looks normal! Strange, very strange.
And even stranger is the release by Dennis Ray, Powell JR, Justin Rhody and Clare Hubbard. If indeed that's who did this short cassette. There is the sound of drums, recorded from the playing in the room next door while along someone learning to play the trumpet and/or the bass guitar. The b-side is better with some vague, undirected piece of bells shimmering in the wind and some outdoor sound, which hardly counts as field recordings. More outsider weirdness thrown onto tape.
And I am not sure if its a conceptual joke, but the tape by Skything had a short bit of music and then nothing. In that strange universe of Friends & Relatives that might be the real thing but this is beyond it, as far as I'm concerned. (FdW)


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